Is Israel's national anthem for Jews only?

Can non-Jews identify with a song that speaks of the 'yearning' of a 'Jewish spirit'?

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Israeli flag at the Western Wall
Israeli flag at the Western Wall
Israeli flag at the Western Wall

Ezri Tubi, a spokesman for the Samarian town of Yitzhar and self-styled Hasbara media guru, takes on the issue of Israel’s national anthem, Hatikva, and whether it has any relevance for Israel’s roughly two million non-Jewish citizens.

Penned by Naphtali Herz Imber in 1886, the Israeli anthem speaks of the “Jewish spirit yearning” for Zion, and “the hope of two thousand years” for Jews “to be a free people in our land, the land of Zion.”

Some have questioned whether Israeli non-Jews can relate to the message of Hatikva, and, more importantly, whether they can ever be a part of Israel’s Zionist ethos expressed by Hatikva.

There have been those on the Left who have called to exempt Arab Israelis from singing or even acknowledging the anthem at public events. In some cases, opponents of the anthem suggest it be replaced with a “neutral” song which all of Israel’s citizens can relate to.

In 2015, Arab-Israeli Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran caused a stir when he refused to sing Hatikva during a swearing-in ceremony for a fellow justice.

Joubran said the matter was “very sensitive” for him, and decried Israel as being “very racist.”

But Atta Farhat, Chairman of the Druze Zionist Council, rejects the idea that Hatikva is for Jews only.

“I’m a Druze, but I’m proud to be a partner of the Jewish people,” Farhat said in a brief video message.

“I love the Hatikva anthem and I am proud to sing it as it is.”

Farhat also mocked suggestions Israel strip the national anthem of its Jewish, Zionist content, saying Israel’s national symbols naturally reflect its Zionist ethos.

“[M]aybe we should remove the Magen David from the flag and leave out the menorah [the state emblem]?”

“There is no need to blur the Jewish identity of the state so that minority groups can feel that they belong. On the contrary, we must strengthen it.”




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